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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Flower Kings

The Rainmaker

Review by Gary Hill

The Flower Kings return with their latest dishing of their particular flavor of progressive rock. The group typically has a style that is very hard for journalists to keep up with because it changes so briefly. The other side of the FK coin has always been potent and poignant ballads. This album is no exception to that rule. However, one thing seems to have changed about the group's sound. They seem to be getting the hang of more organic and smooth transitions between the various movements of their songs. This allows for The Rainmaker to be one of the best albums the group has released.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Last Minute On Earth
A hard-edged crescendo starts this cut. It drops to a dramatic verse, then rises up to prog fury and splendor. It screams forth after a time, then drops to a jazzy fusion oriented jam. From there the cut moves into territory that seems very much in the vein of David Gilmour, then becomes very melodic and ballad oriented. It turns hard-edged and quite metallic again, ripping out once more. It keeps changing and shifting, running from hard edged to balladic to fusionish - sometimes so quickly that it is hard to keep up with.
World Without A Heart
Beginning in a melodic prog ballad style, The Flower Kings have always been masters of this style, and put in a great effort here. They build it up gradually, but it lives and thrives in this progression.
Road to Sanctuary
Starting in a Genesis oriented mode, this is the second epic of the album. It really cuts loose after the intro, breaking into a slightly country tinged jam that really feels like Steve Howe driven Yes. It drops straight to a straightforward rock and roll jam after a time, and begins building from there, feeling a bit like the old chestnut "Summertime Blues". The track evolves from there, going through the times of massive changes that FK are known for, hard edged one minute and sedate and pretty the next. It breaks to an intricate acoustic guitar solo at one point. It also jumps into a very cool slightly old world textured jam. The outro calls to mind Yes' "Going For The One".
The Rainmaker
An instrumental, this one starts atmospheric and sedate, then begins a very gradual buildup. It reaches a dramatic crescendo, becoming more of a true song structure, leaving the ethereal behind. It does drop back to the ethereal to end.
City of Angels
A classic prog rock arrangement with just a hint of Jimmy Buffet serves as the intro. The chorus comes in playful and bouncy. This one evolves into a melodic and coherent balladic sort of prog number. The composition goes through a lot of changes, but still stays very true to its central themes - rather unusual for FK. As it continues on it breaks into a dramatic Genesisish instrumental segment that heralds the outro.
Elaine
This is another Flower Kings ballad that breaks into a killer jazz jam late in the song.
Thru The Walls
Another that starts like early Genesis, this track becomes pretty standard slow paced FK territory. It drops to a cool Genesisish ethereal jam for the instrumental break. At times this one feels a bit like Genesis' "Watcher of the Skies".
Sword of God
Beginning with a powerful angelic choir, this one explodes with metallic fury. The cut works on that theme with more melodic segments finishing off the picture. This one is quite a powerful and diverse jam, feeling a bit like Kansas at times.
Blessing of A Smile
Sedate keyboard tones begin this one. It builds in an almost neo-classical way for a short time, then a lushly potent balladic sort of progression emerges. Neo-classical stylings return as the icing on the cake that is this instrumental number.
Red Alert
This brief instrumental is bouncy and somewhat playful.
Serious Dreamers
Keyboards flying solo begin this classic sounding FK balladic number. It is a killer number that has some great lyrics and is very catchy. One of the strongest pieces on the album, it includes a great jazzy sedate break. This one is a wonderful way to end the album.
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